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Apartments should be homes, not investments

The trend of shoebox units forming a large chunk of the apartments in condominiums first took off in some mixed developments in the Central Business District about 15 years ago, before spreading across our island.

Fifteen years should have been enough time for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to study and nip this unhealthy trend in the bud. Instead, it is only encouraging developers to vary the sizes of units, with dire results (Developers encouraged to vary sizes of housing units in new projects; May 3).

URA's inertia has contributed to a spike in land bid and collective sale prices over the last decade and a half, especially in the suburbs, as many developers bet on studio apartments to maximise profits from their new projects.

Many such units appear to be owned by investors - including those from abroad - who are more than wealthy enough to leave them empty.

Can an island with land constraints afford to pitch its real estate as merely an investment asset for the world's super-rich? Surely this cannot be the URA's long-term vision for Singapore as a city for families to live, work and play in?

It is time for the URA to return to its key mission of nurturing private residential properties as a home for Singaporeans first and foremost. It must take immediate measures to cut the slack in a private residential property market that is increasingly being driven by shoebox units and opportunistic developers

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 13, 2018, with the headline 'Apartments should be homes, not investments'. Print Edition | Subscribe